After a bit of a false start at Hotel Du Vin (and some surprisingly poor customer service – and you know I’m not one to complain easily, so it must have been pretty bad!) we were left with a spontaneous choice of where to dine in the George IV Bridge area of Edinburgh.
Maison Bleue is located on Victoria Street, one of my favourite streets in Edinburgh which winds down from the aforementioned George IV Bridge to the Grassmarket. We had a date with Bradly Mitchell, a musician who plays at Biddy Mulligans on a Sunday night. Well, you know, he didn’t know it was a date or anything, I’ve just basically become a part time groupie.
Anyway, given that we had plans in the Grassmarket we decided on Maison Bleue as it was on our way, it looked cosy and like they might have a table for us. We were welcomed warmly and seated upstairs. The restaurant oozes Edinburgh charm and overlooks some of the Old Town.
Maison Bleue serves North African, French and Scottish cuisine. A bit of an odd combination, and the menu does read a little unusual, but if the food tastes good I don’t really mind that. Along with the A La Carte menu, there’s a banquet set menu (£29.50), plus a pre-theatre dinner menu (£14.50). We opted for the pre-theatre menu.
I selected the ‘Surprise Calamari‘ to start. I have a pet hate about any dish on a menu being called a ‘surprise’ for two reasons;
1. I don’t really want a surprise when I’m ordering food, it reminds me of those Bush Tucker Trials on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here – the one where they lift the cloche to reveal a kangaroo anus or something equally boke inducing.
2. My mum used to make concoctions with the ‘surprise’ adjective attached to them. ‘Surprise Pasta’, ‘Surprise Mince’….you get the idea. The surprise was usually that it was all the leftovers served as a one pot dish, the results of which varied greatly (love you, Mum! Ahem).
Back to that Surprise Calamari, I can’t be certain what the surprise was, but it was spicy which was really unusual and actually very tasty. I can forgive the surprise thing on this occasion, although I’d still just prefer a nice description instead. Maybe it’s just me?
My friend had the more sensibly named Aubergine Tower, a stack of griddled aubergine, goats cheese and caramelised red onions.
Both of our mains were leaning more to the North African influenced dishes on the menu. I had the Chicken Kemia and Merguez Sausages – marinated chicken skewers and spicy lamb sausages served with cous cous. It was tasty enough and quite a large portion.
My friend had the North African Chicken Tagine with petits pois, artichokes and preserved lemons. This was a dish that would suit those that like plainer dishes, that’s not to say it wasn’t tasty, just that it wasn’t overly spicy.
Unusually we passed on the desserts, probably so that we didn’t miss Bradly.
I’d recommend Maison Bleue to those who want to eat somewhere very central that won’t break the bank. The service is efficient and friendly and the menu has a variety of cuisines and dishes that will suit those with differing tastes.
Location: 36-38 Victoria St, Edinburgh EH1 2JW
Price: Pre-theatre menu £14.50 for two courses
Good for: Central location, Edinburgh charm